NORTON (ZIMBABWE), May 17 — Judicial Service Commission (JSC) chairperson chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on Friday said cooperating partners have pledged to avail at least $12 million to fund construction of 30 courthouses throughout the country, a development that will greatly improve the justice system.

Chidyausiku was speaking at the commissioning of a magistrates court in Norton whose construction the Danish government funded.

More than 26 out of the 52 magistrates courts in Zimbabwe are operating from rented premises.

Chidyausiku said low disbursements from the national purse for operational costs had hampered funding of the commission’s projects.

“It is our intention from now on to put up brick and mortar structures on 30 additional sites that we have identified based on the same model as this courthouse.

“Our cooperating partners have promised to finance us with the construction of those structures. I believe assistance will be in the range of $12 million,” he said.

He commended the Danish government for the support and said efforts to construct more courthouses and the marginal improvement in magistrate’s salaries by the government have made an impact on the delivery of justice at a national level.

“In 2010 the backlog in the magistrates cases stood at 48 532 cases. The backlog as of March this year, had been reduced to 4 122 cases.

He said the number of reported cases of corruption among magistrates has since dropped.
Speaking at the same occasion, Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs deputy Minister Fortune Chasi said the government was committed to rooting out corruption.

“The judicial services are a critical component of our governance structures as a country. In instances where corruption is identified I want to assure you that the matters will receive the widest possible publicity and will be handled in a swift manner,” he said.

Royal Danish embassy charge d’ affairs Eric Brogger Rasmussen said the partnership between the JSC and Denmark was aimed at improving the country’s ranking which was listed as number 45 out of 52 countries according to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

The Mo Ibrahim foundation measures all African countries over a wide range of features from economics and social to the rule of law and human rights.

SOURCE: New Ziana